The History Channel Joins Hands with New York University

The History Channel announced today that, beginning in the fall 2007 semester, the State University of New York-Maritime College will offer specialized online courses for credit featuring two primetime series from the network. The two series are Engineering an Empire and Great Ships. Engineering an Empire will be airing on History International as well as during the length of the course. Viewers of The History Channel and history enthusiasts throughout the country will be able to earn college credit as non-matriculated students by fulfilling the course obligations for either of these two engaging history courses.

This innovative course format marks the first time The History Channel has collaborated with a university in designing course content for college credit. Building upon the increasing popularity of distance learning and virtual classrooms, the courses offer a cutting-edge approach to learning history, allowing viewers of The History Channel to delve into a deeper exploration of the documentaries they view on the network. Two Maritime College professors will conduct these courses which require watching documentaries and fulfilling course assignments online and via email. To sign up for one or both of the courses, applicants submit a form and payment on the SUNY-Maritime website, and will receive instructions about the course obligations via email.

One course, The History of Technology, will be led by Professor Hartley Spatt, State University Distinguished Teaching Professor at SUNY and an author of more than 20 articles on the history of technology. The course utilizes The History Channel’s Engineering an Empire series as a framework by selecting major developments in technology and architecture, and analyzing the ways these innovations have transformed societies throughout history. It will include analysis of the process of technological innovation, and the application of technology in resource-limited societies. In support of this course, the Engineering an Empire series will air on History International, the network’s channel featuring global programming, starting on Tuesday, September 4 and each Tuesday evening at 10PM/9c, for 13 weeks. Students can also purchase the documentaries for the course on DVD at The History Channel online store.

The other course, American Maritime History to 1870, led by seasoned Maritime College history Professor David Allen, is based on The History Channel series Great Ships. In it, students will explore the major developments in American maritime history from pre-Columbian times through the Civil War. Supplementary readings for the course will focus on the pivotal developments in the story of American maritime commerce and some of this nation’s most consequential battles at sea. Students will research a specific issue concerning a maritime event that significantly altered America’s history as part of the course expectations. Professor Allen has been offering courses shaped around documentaries produced by The History Channel for several years, and sees the on-line course as a prime opportunity to further develop these popular courses. Students will purchase copies of the Great Ships documentaries in DVD format to watch the programs and fulfill the corresponding course assignments.

Dr. Libby H. O’Connell, Chief Historian and SVP, Corporate Outreach, The History Channel, said, “The History Channel is very pleased to be working with SUNY-Maritime College and their faculty to offer compelling and content-rich history courses for college credit. These courses give our viewers the opportunity to delve deeper into history, using shows like Engineering an Empire and Great Ships as their framework.”

In response to the announcement, Dr. Joseph C. Hoffman, Provost and VPAA of SUNY Maritime College said, “The first goal in the Maritime College mission statement is ‘To provide a learning environment that stimulates intellectual growth, scholarship, and creativity.’ We hope that this historic partnership with The History Channel will enable us to offer this intellectual stimulation not just to students here on our Throgs Neck campus, but also to those around the United States.”

Professors Spatt and Allen are both among the faculty in SUNY-Maritime College’s Humanities Department. The two on-line history courses offered in collaboration with The History Channel are among the newest additions to the State University of New York’s award-winning Learning Network, a program recognized for excellence in distance learning. In 2006, the SUNY Learning Network was honored by the United States Distance Learning Association with the 21st Century Best Practice Award of Distance Learning. The SLN makes available more than 4,300 courses and 100 complete degree and certificate programs on 40 SUNY campuses to approximately 100,000 student enrollments.

The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive university system in the United States, educating more than 424,000 students in 7,669 degree and certificate programs on 64 campuses.

The Maritime College, founded in 1874, was incorporated into the SUNY system in 1948. It offers nationally accredited programs in Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture, as well as programs in International Transportation and Trade, Marine Environmental Science, and Maritime Studies. Most students at SUNY Maritime College also take coursework and at-sea training that qualifies them to become Third Mates or Third Assistant Engineers, on ocean-going vessels ranging from tugboats to supertankers.

The History Channel is a leading cable television network featuring compelling original, non-fiction specials and series that bring history to life in a powerful and entertaining manner across multiple platforms. The network provides an inviting place where people experience history in new and exciting ways enabling them to connect their lives today to the great lives and events of the past that provide a blueprint for the future. The History Channel has earned four Peabody Awards, three Primetime Emmy(R) Awards, 10 News & Documentary Emmy(R) Awards and received the prestigious Governor’s Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the network’s Save Our History(R) campaign dedicated to historic preservation and history education.

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